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Is developing soft skills as critical as developing hard/technical skills?

January 7, 2020

Organizations are fighting to stay ahead of their competition and trying to hold on to their best talent, but they are struggling to fill key positions. Individuals are more conscious about staying relevant in the age of automation. What does this mean for us in developing our soft skills?

Hard skills vs soft skills: What is the difference?

Hard skills are related to specific technical knowledge such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, or analytics, while soft skills are personality traits that include customer-centricity, passion for learning, leadership, critical thinking, and collaboration. They work hand in hand for us to successfully perform and advance in our jobs.

In the age of automation, maintaining technical fluency across roles is critical. However, this fuels a demand for adaptable individuals who are critical thinkers, communicators, and leaders. As technology advances, soft skills will be in high demand to support individual and business growth. A survey conducted by LinkedIn as part of their Workplace learning report 2018 found that executives, managers, and talent developers identified “training for soft skills” as number-one priority for talent development in 2018.

Even though research shows us that there is a need for soft skills development, a worldwide, cross-sector research program that Capgemini conducted in collaboration with LinkedIn surveyed over 1,250 people both employees, leadership teams, human resources, and talent executives found that 51% think that their organization faces a gap in hard digital skills and 59% think that their organization faces a gap in soft skills.

Current trends also tell us that in the future, workers will focus more time and effort into activities that machines are less capable of doing. These would include managing people, applying expertise to make data-driven decisions, and communicating with others. The skills and capabilities needed will also change; there will be a requirement for more social, emotional, and advanced cognitive capabilities. This, in turn, will impact organizations in all sectors of business.

So, is it worth investing our time in developing our soft skills?

The machines are not quite ready to take over. But the ever-changing world of work tells us that going forward we will rely more on automation where machines could replace humans – and where they can’t (yet). However, we as humans and our ability to interact effectively will become more important. It will be our soft skills that will allow us to conduct our job-related tasks and activities, involving little to no interaction with machines. Unlike technical or hard skills, soft skills are required in all jobs across all organizations.

Thankfully, soft skills are highly trainable. Unlike our IQ, which is largely static, our emotional intelligence and the ability to learn and apply empathy, organization, and leadership can continue to be shaped. The development of our emotional intelligence is almost endless, and it’s crucial for success in every field of business. Therefore investing our time in soft skills development is crucial for both us as individuals and our business.

Find out more about the Learning and Development programs at Capgemini. And head over to our careers section if you are interested in a career that gives you support for your professional development.